Alignment of roles of near-peer mentors for medical students underrepresented in medicine with medical education competencies: A qualitative study

Amy Prunuske, Bre Anna Houss, Anna Wirta Kosobuski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Medical student learning experiences should facilitate progressive development of competencies required for practice. Medical school training opportunities have traditionally focused on acquiring medical knowledge and patient care competencies while affording less opportunity to receive feedback on practice-based improvement and system-based practice competencies. The Prematriculation program at the University of Minnesota Medical School Duluth Campus (UM MSD) utilized near-peer mentors to support the transition of students underrepresented in medicine, including American Indian/ Alaska Natives (AI/AN) and those from rural backgrounds, into medical school. The purpose of this study is to better define the role of near-peer mentors and explore the alignment of near-peer mentorship with the ACGME core competencies. Methods: An important component of the Prematriculation program, designed to prepare incoming under-represented students for medical school, was the inclusion of near-peer mentors. The six near-peer mentors participated in semi-structured interviews or focus groups within 1 year of serving as a near-peer mentor. Themes emerged from open-coding of the transcripts. Results: The near-peer mentors drew on their own experiences to transmit information that supported the socialization of the matriculating students into medical school. Direct benefits to the mentors included solidifying their own understanding of medical knowledge and execution of procedural skills. Mentors provided examples of benefits related to their own development of interpersonal communication and professionalism skills. Operating in the context of the program provided opportunities to engage mentors in practice-based improvement and system-based practice. Conclusions: Serving as a near-peer mentor offers significant benefits to medical students from backgrounds underrepresented in medicine. By taking on the peer mentoring leadership role, students progressed toward the competencies required of an effective physician. Given the importance of acquiring these competencies, it is worth considering how near-peer mentoring can be applied more broadly across the medical school curriculum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number417
JournalBMC medical education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 11 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
An award from the UM MSD Biomedical Science Department Native American Mentoring Program provided support for BH. The Dean’s office and Department of Health and Human Services HRSA provided financial support for the program and its evaluation.

Funding Information:
This study was deemed as exempt research by the University of Minnesota IRB (#1306S36782). All participants in this study signed informed consent statements after provision of a verbal description of the study and were further informed they could withdraw from the study at any time without consequence. The NPMs received a meal and no additional incentives to participate in the study.


  • ACGME competencies
  • Medical students
  • Near-peer
  • Peer mentors
  • Prematriculation
  • Underrepresented in medicine

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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